I was talking to one of my fellow church members recently. He's having a tough time. Someone close to him is going through drug problems and not interested in help and ... well, you get the idea.
"Yeah," I told him, "that can be tough."
"Yeah, it is."
"Aren't you glad we know a tougher God?"
"Yeah, but there's always the problem of free will, isn't there?" It wasn't a question. God, you see, is pretty powerful, but He is hamstrung when it comes to Human Free Will. It's His ... kryptonite, so to speak.
At least, that's what I hear from Christians, over and over. God will do what God will do ... as long as we cooperate, as long as we go along, as long as we let Him.
"You really don't mean that, do you?" I asked him.
"What do you mean?"
"Do you actually believe that God's will is limited by Man's will?"
Where would I get such a notion? Where would I get the idea that God can and does override Man's free will when God wants to? Well, from Scripture, of course. We know, for instance, that God claims to have kept Abimelech from sinning (Gen 20:6). Now, if Abimelech was not going to sin (he kept himself from sinning), God would be making a false claim. So clearly, however He did it, God actually kept him from sinning. And that cannot be anything but an interruption of Abimelech's free will. We know that David credited God for bringing Abigail to him to keep him from evil (1 Sam 25:32-34). Well might Abigail protest. "Hey! That was my idea!" But David both agrees that she did it and affirms that God did it. We know that God hardened Pharaoh's heart. Over and over we read "Pharaoh's heart was hardened" (Exo 7:13, 22; Exo 8:15, 19, 32, etc.), but God told Moses "Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants" (Exo 10:1), and the rest of the account laid Pharaoh's hard heart at God's feet (Exo 10:20, 27, etc.). In the end, we read, "For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, 'For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed in all the earth.' So then He has mercy on whomever He wills, and He hardens whomever He wills." (Rom 9:17-18) Proverbs says, "The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps." (Prov 16:9) Over and over Scripture claims that God retains the right and the ability to interrupt Man's free will whenever God chooses to do so.
I write this today because it's Sunday. I write it today because it is a reason to celebrate our Heavenly Father. I write it because God doesn't have any kryptonite. When we face tough times, when we deal with people and their choices, when we pray for hard-hearted loved ones, when we go through these things that all of us go through at some time or another, it is of great comfort, at least to me, to know that there are no lost causes, that God's hands are not tied, that God always wins and God always does what is not merely good, but what is absolutely best. I may not always understand it and it may not always feel good to me at the time, but I can always say, "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! To Him be the glory forever. Amen." (Rom 11:33, 36)